If it seems like every word in the dictionary now begins with "Tw," it's not just your imagination. In February 2009, Twitter had nearly 7.1 million users, with a growth rate of 1,382% from the year before, according to Nielsen NetView. As mainstream America braces for the Twitter storm, talent-acquisition professionals are just beginning to uncover all the social network has to offer.
Little more than nine months ago, at digital agency Organic, we began to incorporate Twitter into our social-media recruiting strategy. We held a "Twitter Twaining" with our recruiters, introducing them to capabilities of the network, along with helpful accompanying apps and instruction on how to search for key talent. They ran with it, and in a short time, Twitter has become the anchor of Organic's job-posting strategy. In fact, today more than three-quarters of our jobs are placed solely on social-media sites such as Twitter (along with LinkedIn, Facebook and, of course, the company website). Only a quarter of our postings are posted on traditional job boards such as Coroflot, Mediabistro, Monster and TalentZoo.
Why are we weaning ourselves from traditional job boards? Simple: We get results from social-networking tools -- with no expense. Every day we discover new and innovative ways to use social media for our recruiting efforts.
Twitter enables us to focus on passive candidates, by following someone we may not yet know. We can nano-target qualified candidates and cultivate relationships well before we have an open position, engaging in thoughtful dialogue by responding to their tweets.
Once we have an opening that might be a fit for a Twitter friend, rather than making a cold call to a stranger, we can make a "warm tweet." We can talk to someone with whom we've already interacted, who already understands a bit about Organic based on tweets that cover Organic's culture, work and news items. It's less like a blind date and more like a first date with someone you've already met.
Another benefit: There are no time or space constraints to tweeting with a candidate. We don't have to interrupt potential candidates during their busy workdays; they can engage with us when it's convenient for them. And candidates who aren't ready to make a move can easily retweet, or forward, our opening to peers who may also be a fit.
More than one-third of Organic employees are active on Twitter. The viral implications of this are huge. Now, when a job is tweeted by an Organic recruiter or hiring manager, employees have the opportunity to retweet it to friends. That capability nicely complements our employee-referral program, which has experienced an uptick. In fact, a third of Organic's hires are found through employee referrals.
|ABOUT THE AUTHORS|
Tracy Cote is executive director-talent at Organic and teaches at San Francisco State University.
Traci Armstrong is director-talent acquisition at Organic and conducts social-networking workshops in Detroit. It took great restraint for them not to use the pen names Twacy and Twaci for this article.
Helping them find us
Twitter also helps talent find Organic. Using Twitter's latest job-search app, candidates can find Organic jobs easily. Twitter's searchability has made us think more about our own "findability" and altered the way we post jobs. We've created a new formatting protocol to increase our chances of being found. Today, our postings must be headlines, 140 characters or less. Key words in our postings get hash marks (#). Each posting includes a trackable URL that enables us to monitor click-throughs and directs candidates to apply through our Applicant Tracking System. That way, candidates who aren't right for the role they're applying for will be entered in our database for future opportunities.
While Twitter and other social-media sites may seem like the flavor of the month, the real proof is in the numbers. In terms of return on investment, there is no investment besides time. From a branding perspective, it's always a win. Retweeting is easy and more far-reaching than a static posting a job on a traditional job board. With a solid social-networking strategy, most companies can reduce job-board spending quickly, while pinpointing discipline- or industry-specific candidates.
Social networking has changed the way Organic recruits, but it doesn't replace the importance of face-to-face contact. Instead, it serves as a great jumping-off point. Ultimately, interpersonal chemistry and cultural fit -- in addition to skill set -- are an important part of our hiring process.
As Twitter and other social-media sites continue to grow in popularity, employers who participate will find a gold-mine of sophisticated candidates. Devising a strategy around social media isn't difficult, but it does require a mind-set leap: from traditional to twaditional.
- Create a branded company Twitter profile. Assign a key person -- or automate tweets -- to post jobs as they become available. This person should also be responsible for following professionals that could be potential candidates.
- Don't be a Twitter wallflower. Engage in conversation with the people you are following -- and your followers -- whether you have job openings for them or not. Then, when you need to speak with someone about an opportunity, you've already established rapport.
- Create a protocol for your job Tweets. Consider searchability by using hash marks (#) around key words. Include a trackable URL to your job posting so you can monitor the number of click-throughs a job posting receives.
- Help your search by using a third-party tool such as TweetBeep, which alerts you to tweets relevant to your search.
- Encourage your staff to retweet job openings by providing an incentive such as a referral bonus for candidates sourced through tweeting.
- Don't be a one-track tweeter. Be varied and creative in your approach. To keep it real and not boring or spamlike, tweet on a variety of topics including industry-related items of interest, some personal tweets and, of course, your job postings.